Love keeps us connected, no matter where we are

We passed our neighbor, affectionately known as "Farmer Tom" (for the fresh garlic and tomatoes he's always passing out) on a walk last week. We stopped so our dog, Lizzy, could get a treat. (He's always passing out dog treats, too.)

"I just love him," Ainsley said. "He's just like my grandpa."

She stopped and thought a minute.

"Of course, he's like my sixth grandpa," she mused.

We made a count.

With her paternal grandfather, my dad, my mom's second husband, my mom's sweetheart (a stretch, maybe, but he's become part of our family), my birth father and my birth mother's husband, Ainsley's up to six grandparents. Any honorary titles she passes out start at No. 7.

She's also got four grandmas, counting my birth mother and my birth father's wife. That brings her total grandparent count up to 10.

I always thought I was lucky to have six grandparents, as my dad's mom and dad had divorced and both remarried. She has me beat!

I started thinking about this more after I remembered Sunday, Sept. 12, is Grandparents Day.

I have vivid memories of my grandparents, especially one of my grandpa on my mom's side constantly pointing out the rug in front of his recliner. We were not allowed to step on the rug, as that's where he kept his feet, and he didn't want us stepping on them, either. He could be a little cranky at times. Fortunately my grandma loved to have fun, and my strongest memories of her are of her infectious laugh.

On my dad's side, my grandma was a true inspiration for me. She worked for many years as a travel agent and brought back souvenirs for me that accumulated into quite the international doll collection. Having never been on a plane, I was in awe of her visits to Hawaii and Asia. She also loved to cook and loved to write, two interests I shared with her from a young age. I even learned to play the organ, a bit, because she knew how to play.

Of course, my grandparents have been gone a long time. I lost the first, my paternal grandfather, when I was just 4. The most recent loss was of my 103-year-old step-grandpa in 2003.

Ainsley felt it deeply when she lost two of her grandmas, one in 2017 and one last November. Memories of Dan's mom and my mom usually prompt her to smile but they still bring tears from time to time, too.

Two of her grandpas - Dan's dad and my mom's sweetheart - are in their 90s and in assisted living. We visit as much as we can (they are in lockdown again), but they simply can't be an active part of her life.

Grandpa Bob, my birth father, lives in Florida, and Grandpa Steve, my birth stepfather (is that a thing?) lives in Maryland. So we don't get to see them as much as we'd like, either.

But I take comfort when I remember we are all connected by the Invisible String, which we learned about from a book Pastor Christina gave Ainsley after Gram died.

"People who love each other are always connected by a very special string made of love," the book explains. "Even though you can't see it with your eyes, you can feel it with your heart and know that you are always connected to everyone you love."

So this Sunday, with grandparents in assisted living and Florida and Maryland and heaven, we won't be able to celebrate together, but we will know we are not alone. We are connected by love.

- Pamela Lannom is editor

of The Hinsdalean.

Readers can email her at

[email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean